Pixean
Mar 29, 2019

A crystal ball seems mythical and magical, even now! It somehow takes us back to the glorious fairytale days of our pasts. The crystal ball has started to make its mark in the world of photography and how! Whenever the creativity in photography seems to get close to any point of saturation, new magic creeps up. A crystal ball is one such magic. Let us take a look at the following tips on how to use the crystal ball to the maximum potential…

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                              Image courtesy: Amazon.com

  1. The size: We can safely assume that you are interested in this and want to give it a shot! Manage to get hold of a crystal ball which has a diameter more than 100mm. If the crystal ball is too small, you will require proper macro lenses to get that much closer. A bigger crystal ball can be shot from a distance using a telephoto zoom lens.

  2. Maintenance of the crystal ball: You will have to purchase a glass cleaner. A clean cloth will also be required. Before every single shot, it is advised that you clean the crystal ball with the cleaning liquid. Although not mandatory, cleaning the ball regularly will get you the sharpest of images. The crystal ball needs protection too. You should consider buying a stand for the ball. It cannot be kept without care. It is always advisable to wear gloves while handling the crystal ball.

  3. The choice of lens: Here is an interesting part of the process. Choosing the lens can depend upon a lot of factors. The best way to do this is perhaps by using the macro lens. Macro lenses are expensive but really effective. There are a few cheap alternatives to macro lenses like reverse rings and extension tubes. But these alternatives cannot deliver the quality of a macro lens. You can shoot with a telephoto zoom lens as well if you don’t want an absolute close up shot of the ball.

  4. The f-number and depth of field: The depth of field depends on the aperture of the lens. If you are using a macro lens, you need to be very careful about the depth of field. The depth of field needs to be large enough to have the entire ball in focus but small enough to make sure that the entire background is completely blurry. If you are operating with the macro extension tubes, it is going to be tough to get the perfect depth of field. This requires a lot of patience and practice.

  5. Tackling the upside down factor: This is not a case of reflection. In fact, this is refraction photography. The image made within the ball appears upside down. Now, how can you actually rectify this? Well, there are several ways to do that. The first one is perhaps to accept it the way it is. Sometimes the reversed image looks pretty cool. You can also shoot it the way it is and reverse it in any image editing tool. The third way is the most creative way to do it. Capture the reflection of that shot and you will straightway have the upright image.

  6. The darkness of the ball: The ball should be placed in darkness. The background must be well lit since that is your subject here. You don’t want the ball to be placed in a well-illuminated place since that might introduce several unwanted flares. It is quite similar to your lens. A lot of light sources placed near the lens results in a lot of lens flares.

  7. Getting close: It is generally advised to get as close to the crystal ball as possible. This is normal since that will magnify the image. The frame will get filled by the crystal ball and only then will the image within the ball be visible. Of course, you can choose different compositions but if you are not thinking about getting close up shots of the ball, you need to make sure that the ball is larger in size so that the image will be visible even when you are not taking zoomed in shots.

  8. The image: The image behind makes the image within. This is the formula that dominates and defines crystal ball photography. The scene behind needs to be visually attracting. That image is what is refracted in the crystal ball. The ball just adds a new dimension to the image. It provides a natural framework for all that is going on behind. At the end of the day, it is only showing the landscape or portrait that you have chosen to photograph.                                                       

  9. Alignment: Now that you have chosen a background that is quite visually attractive, it is time to place the crystal ball in the foreground. To maintain a balance between the two, the horizon within the ball should be aligned with the actual horizon outside. The mismatch in the alignment of the horizons will render an artificial feel to the image.

  10. Props: The crystal ball looks pleasing, to say the least. However, everything in photography can be enhanced. You can use several types of props to actually beautify the looks of the ball further. These may include smoke guns and rice lights. Use of smoke guns to generate a little amount of smoke can look quite cool. Rice lights have often been used in crystal ball photography to surround the ball itself.

  11. Post processing: One of the key aspects of photography, post-processing plays a vital role in this kind of photography as well. You need to enhance the looks within the ball first. Use selective saturation and process the image within the ball. You may keep it that way with the general image in black and white and the ball in colors. If not, go ahead and process the rest of the image accordingly. Use the crop option to decide the composition for one final time.                         

Crystal ball photography is not done by many. It is a new genre of photography. With the help of these tips, you are certainly going to be ready to try it out. Get creative and get mystic!